How this CEO deals with rejection at work

April 16, 2015, 4:00 PM UTC

MPW Insider is an online community where the biggest names in business and beyond answer timely career and leadership questions. Today’s answer for: How should every successful woman deal with rejection? is written by Katherine Power, co-founder and CEO of Who What Wear.

Learning how to deal with rejection is not nearly as important as learning when to take (or not take) ‘no’ for an answer. For me, rejection usually means “not through this door, but perhaps through another.” There are certainly situations in life when ‘no’ really does mean no, but when it comes to business, rejection is just another way of saying a change in course in needed.

For example, think about the sales process. If you are offering a truly valuable product or service that you believe in (and you should) and the client chooses to go with a competitor, don’t stop there. Instead use the rejection as an opportunity to dig deeper and prove that your product is essential to their business. Any time you hear ‘no’ it should send you back to the drawing-board, not to a dead end. Maybe you were turned down for a loan or a line of credit for your business–don’t give up. Do your research and figure out which financial institutions may be a better fit, as each one requires a different set of criteria.

And lastly, recognize when it’s best to look rejection in the eye and walk the other way. If a potential investor or employer is quick to turn you down, they probably aren’t the right fit for you. You will never get the outcome you want if their vision isn’t in line with yours to begin with. At that point though, the choice becomes yours and you’ll realize it’s not rejection at all.

Read all answers to the MPW Insider question: How should every successful woman deal with rejection?

6 ways to handle rejection at work (without losing it) by Donna Wiederkehr, CMO of Dentsu Aegis Network.

The most important business lesson I learned in my 20s by Barbara Dyer, president and CEO of The Hitachi Foundation.

How failure helped me start my own business by Maren Kate Donovan, CEO of Zirtual.

Why women need to stop holding back at work by Gloria Cordes Larson, president of Bentley University.

So you didn’t get the promotion. What’s next? by Debbie Messemer, managing partner at KPMG San Francisco.

Why even the best employees need to experience failure byPerry Yeatman, CEO of Perry Yeatman Global Partners.

You’ve made a mistake at work. Now what? by Stacia Pierce, CEO of Ultimate Lifestyle Enterprises.

How rejection made me a better employee (27 years later) by Liz Wiseman, president of Wiseman Group.

How to bounce back from rejection at work by Kathy Collins, CMO at H&R Block.

The upside of failure by Cathy Baron Tamraz, chairwoman and CEO of Business Wire.

3 steps to overcome rejection at work by Shiza Shahid, co-founder and ambassador of Malala Fund

How to avoid overreacting at work by Mary Civiello, president of Civiello Communications Group.

Why the best leaders are defined by their failures by Alyse Nelson, CEO and co-founder of Vital Voices Global Partnership.

5 stages of rejection (and how to deal) by Beth Fisher-Yoshida, director of Negotiation and Conflict Resolution Program at Columbia University.

Keep making mistakes at work? Here’s how to recover by Kathy Bloomgarden, CEO of Ruder Finn.

How to successfully deal with rejection at work by Beth Monaghan, principal and co-founder of InkHouse.

How to shake off rejection like Taylor Swift by Beth Comstock, senior vice president and CMO of General Electric.

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